Industries in Depth

The film industry is more diverse than ever before - here's why

Hollywood, California

Both China and South Korea’s film output has increased dramatically in recent years. Image: Unsplash/ Nathan DeFiesta

Charlotte Edmond
Senior Writer, Forum Agenda
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  • Bollywood releases far more films than Hollywood, and has done for over a decade.
  • The US might have the highest box office sales, but it’s India that sells the most tickets.
  • Tech giants and video streaming platforms are changing the market with ticket sales outside of Asia flagging.

James Corden and Rebel Wilson dressed as cats. Elton John, Billie Eilish and Eminem blasting out hits. A red carpet packed with world-famous actors. The 92nd Oscars offered plenty for the commentators.

But it seems there is only one thing everyone is talking about: Parasite.

The South Korean film made history at the annual awards show, becoming the first non-English language work to claim Best Picture. In fact, it was the biggest winner of the night, taking home a total of four Academy Awards, also including Directing, International Feature Film, and Writing (Original Screenplay).


With K-pop becoming a multibillion-dollar global phenomenon, and other imports including K-art and TV shows in the form of K-drama also garnering international appreciation, it’s undoubtedly another victory for South Korean popular culture. And while Hollywood of course remains a dominant presence in the global film industry it’s also a sign times could be changing.

Here are five things that prove Hollywood isn’t the only show in town.

1. Bollywood releases far more films than Hollywood

India is one of the largest film and cinema hubs in the world – and it has been growing consistently. In fact, it has been the largest producer of films for over a decade. In 2018 alone there were 1,800 digital feature films released in the country; the US by contrast only released 500 that year. Indeed, both China and Japan are ahead of the States when it comes to volumes of films released.

Both China and South Korea’s film output has increased dramatically in recent years. China produced over 1,000 films in 2018, compared to 526 in 2010. And South Korea made over 450 movies in 2018, up from 152 in 2010.

Bong Joon Ho holds one of his Oscars for
Bong Joon Ho at the Vanity Fair Oscar party in Beverly Hills Image: REUTERS/Danny Moloshok

2. Parasite isn’t even the biggest-grossing film in South Korea

Viewing figures will have certainly been given a boost by Parasite’s recent Oscar win (it’s grossed almost $180 million and counting – 75% of which is international box office sales) but there were certainly other big hitters domestically. Extreme Job was 2019’s highest-grossing movie in South Korea, turning 140 billion South Korean won ($117.5 million).

In 2019, box office revenue in South Korea totalled about 1.91 trillion South Korean won ($1.6 billion).

Best-paid worldwide actors 2019 Published by Amy Watson, Sep 27, 2019.
Best-paid worldwide actors 2019 Image: Statista

3. Bollywood’s got influence

One-time Bollywood actress Priyanka Chopra Jonas may not have been on many people’s radar a few years back, but her FBI drama series Quantico has helped secure her a place among the global acting glitterati. She now has roughly 50 million followers on Instagram. That might pale against Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson’s 172 million but it’s plenty ahead of other Hollywood stars like Iron Man’s Robert Downey Jr or Leonardo DiCaprio, both of whom are also active users of the social platform.

Bollywood stars Alia Bhatt, Shraddha Kapoor, and Deepika Padukone all also have over 40 million followers.

4. Bums on seats

By box office sales, the US market leads by a significant amount. In the US and Canada there were $11.9 billion worth of box office sales in 2018. But that’s not to say other markets should be overlooked. China, the second biggest box office market, took $9 billion in the same year.

And even including the US, it was India where people bought the most cinema tickets.

5. Tech giants are changing the market

Cinema ticket revenue is growing strongly in Asian markets, particularly China. And tech giants like WeChat and AliPay are both heavily invested in the online ticket booking market.

But in the rest of the world, Cinema sales are flagging. In 2017, the US experienced its lowest period of ticket sales since 1995. And as people increasingly stream videos and films through providers such as Netflix, the market is being entirely reinvented.

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